Driven by driving change

by Phil Brown, Co-CEO of Clearstream Banking


Last week my colleague Marc and I sat down for an interview about TARGET2-Securities. It has already been over a month since Clearstream joined the European Central Bank’s settlement platform – and so it’s a good time for a recap.

Let’s face it: In these times of economic – and political! – uncertainty, the delivery of such a project is proof that European integration at a business and industry level still packs a considerable punch. Dozens of institutions all across the continent have joined forces to work on something bigger than themselves, and our vision came true eventually. It is also reassuring proof that our industry can adapt to changes that have an impact on the very core of our business.

I remember the first discussions I had around the project over a decade ago. From the looks of it, we were about to lose our bread-and-butter business (settlement that is) to some far-fetched idea. Still, we supported the initiative right from the start, turning what could have been perceived as a significant threat into our enhanced value proposition: As market infrastructure provider and part of Deutsche Börse Group, we are not only prepared for changes in market behavior and demands; we embrace them – and we drive them.

Similarly, while media conjured up the slow but sure death of the financial intermediary in the wake of the seemingly almighty Blockchain, Deutsche Börse went straight to work to separate the FinTech myth from the actual user case: How can we apply this technology to further improve the markets? As a result, we are now part of many industry initiatives to leverage the potential of this challenge, working on several prototypes that will end up delivering new and valuable services to our customers.

Another area of great change is the regulatory environment. We’ve been facing a deluge of new rules and regulations after the Great Financial Crisis. The challenge: Adapting to the change as well as helping to maneuver our customers with us through these unknown waters at the same time. The next reef to carefully approach here is the Central Securities Depository Regulation (CSDR). It basically means that all European CSDs will have to re-apply for their licence to operate (my colleague Berthold has written about this before). CSDR will also have a direct impact on our customers. I have spoken about this in another video and you will find a good overview of the topic here.

At Clearstream, we are on track with our applications for CSDR licences and at the same time a reliable partner for our customers. Just like the inevitable change, that is – and will remain – certain.

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